Knowing how long before you will be interviewed at a consular post abroad – such as the US Embassy in Manila - is critically important. Some applicants resign from their jobs, or sell properties in anticipation of being issued their immigrant visas, only to be disappointed by a retrogression or moving backwards of visa priority dates.
What is a priority date? There are two types: the priority date of a Family-sponsored petition (F1, F2A, F2B, F3 and F4) and the priority date of an Employment-based petition such as the EB3 for Skilled Workers and Professionals.
For Family-sponsored petitions, the priority date is the date the visa petition was officially received and acknowledged by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
For Employment-based petitions, the priority date is the date that the permanent labor certification was received and acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
Because there are more visa applicants than visas available in both Family and Employment-based categories, there is a long wait before a visa interview could be scheduled. Quite often, what maybe current this month may move back (retrogress) next month, even if a specific immigrant visa category moves more than two years within a year.
Take the F1 and F3 categories for example. In 2010, both categories moved more than 2 years that year. Then it retrogressed in December 2010 and then slowly crawled back to the pre-retrogression date. It is important to know when you should start preparing and obtaining documents, then sending them to the National Visa Center so that when your priority date becomes current, you would be ready for the interview instead of only starting to prepare your documents when your priority date becomes current.
Starting May 2012 and onwards, the U.S. State Department announced the pace by which priority dates would be moving. See details of the announcement, below.
FAMILY-sponsored categories (monthly)
EMPLOYMENT-based categories (monthly)
Employment First (EB1) : Current
Employment Second (EB2) Worldwide: Potential need for cut-off date to be established
China and India: Potentially “Unavailable”
Employment Third (EB3
Employment Fourth: Current
Employment Fifth: Current
For immigrant visa concerns, priority dates, visa availability and being documentarily qualified, please call the Immigrant Visa Center at (02) 634-8717. For visa and migration options to other countries, send your complete, updated resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org